Shelby Flint (born September 17, 1939 in North Hollywood, California) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. A pure and velvety soprano, she stood out among her early ‘60s
contemporaries in that she imbued her work with a tender emotional aesthetic and ground breaking lyrical maturity, inspiring a generation of female musicians. Flint has recorded and written music in genres ranging from pop and folk, to disco and jazz. She recorded two notable hit singles — “Angel on My Shoulder” (1961) and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (1966) — both of which reached the Hot 100 in the United States.
Flint began learning to play the piano and acoustic guitar at the age of six; Shelby’s family background was deeply rooted in the Southern mountains of America, and throughout her childhood she was exposed to this music. While attending high school, Flint played guitar and sang for her friends, further encouraging her to perform for school assemblies, as well as church and civic programs. She attended public schools in Van Nuys California including Valerio Street Elementary, Robert Fulton Jr High and Birmingham High School where she graduated from in 1957. She wrote many songs during this period, among them “Angel on My Shoulder” which would in a few years become a pop standard
In 1958, she recorded a single for Cadence Records, “I Will Love You” (b/w “Oh, I Miss Him So”) with The Jordanaires as vocal backing, though it did not materialize into a recording contract. Her original recording of “Angel on My Shoulder” was released on Valiant in 1960; it is reputed that Barry De Vorzon’s (with whom Flint would co-write several songs) singular reason for starting the label was to have the opportunity to commit Flint’s music to record. Her eponymous debut album was released in 1961; at the end of the year, “Angel on My Shoulder” was listed in the Variety Tune Index of Performance and Sales.
Flint’s next album was Shelby Flint Sings Folk (1962), in which she paid homage to the folk songs she had grown up with, such as “The Ash Grove”, “Black Is the Color”, and “House of the Rising Sun”. It was around this time Flint made the conscientious decision to prioritize family over an active career in music, limiting her potential for nationwide, possibly even worldwide, exposure. Throughout the 1960s, she released a series of well-regarded singles on Valiant, her popularity culminating with the release of Cast Your Fate to the Wind (1966) and its accompanying single.
In the 1970s her singing voice was heard on a number of projects, including the Peanuts feature film Snoopy, Come Home, TV movie The Borrowers and an early directorial effort by Clint Eastwood, Breezy. She also had voice acting roles in the animated TV movies The Stingiest Man in Town and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. Her contribution of three songs to Walt Disney's 1977 animated hit The Rescuers resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Sammy Fain, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins, composers of "Someone's Waiting For You."
With a modestly resuscitated career, Flint recorded the disco/jazz funk album Don’t Stop the Music (1979), a collaboration with relative Ian Jack. The album was released in the twilight hour of the disco genre’s popularity, and failed to achieve critical acclaim. Then, in the ’80s, Flint gathered a jazz group consisting of Bill Bodine, Gregg Karukas, Jerry Peterson, Denny Seiwell, and Jerry Steinholtz. The Shelby Flint Group became one of the most popular ’80s L.A. jazz groups, releasing the 1982 live LP You’ve Been on My Mind which was adored by critics. The group split after a final performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, Flint made guest vocal appearances on well-regarded jazz records by artists such as Chick Corea, Mike Garson, and Tim Weston. In 1994, Flint appeared on Gregg Karukas’ holiday offering Home for the Holidays, reinterpreting holiday classics and singing her own compositions. She also makes sporadic live performances as a solo artist, as well as being a member of the a capella group Inner Voices.
In 2012, the Shelby Flint Group reunited, planning the 2012/13 release of Yesterdays (formerly known as The Oceanway Tapes), a follow-up to You’ve Been on My Mind which was not released at the time. The album has been re-recorded for the occasion, and will also coincide with the re-release of the group’s first album, which has been out of print for some time.
Scores of female artists have cited Flint as an artistic influence, among them Karen Carpenter, Joni Mitchell, and Maureen McGovern. Notably, when starting out, Mitchell was intentionally copying Flint’s act.
Flint's most personal work has been in collaboration with Producer/Guitarist Tim Weston. Their 1992 Jazz album Providence features tracks such as "The Lady Weeps," a sweetly passionate cry for the end of racial tension in Los Angeles. Interestingly, Lady incorporates a paraphrasing of Flint's earliest work Angel On My Shoulder in the lines "Angels we have heard, angels we have known." The angels in this instance refer to victims of hate crimes.
Shelby Flint is still at it decades later, performing live, writing and recording, often in collaboration with guitarist Tim Weston (the son of singer Jo Stafford and bandleader Paul Weston) and jazz keyboard player Greg Karukas.
Truly this musical icon has become the angel on contemporary music's shoulder.(Info edited mainly from last.fm)